ECN Develops A DLP Metal Printing Technique
Kyle Maxey posted on April 17, 2014 |

Researchers at the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands (ECN) have developed a new technique for 3D printing that can create metal parts without melting its mineral material.

Using the research center’s Digital Light Processing-based technology (DLP), which was originally created to build ceramic parts, researchers recently discovered that the same method can be used to manufacture high quality metal components.

While there are a number of metal printing technologies currently on the market, ECN’s DLP method is unique in its ability to fashion parts without the need of melting the machine’s base material. According to Dutch researchers, eliminating the metallic melt pool created by laser sintering machines enables the production of well-compacted, homogenous and high-grade materials that can be rendered into any geometry a designer can imagine.

What’s more, because DLP metal manufacturing skips the melting process, parts can be built faster with a guarantee that each layer of a component will be made of the same constituent material, be equally as dense and have the same conductive properties.

Although ECN has proven that its DLP technology will work for ceramic and metal printing, they’re looking for both private and public partners that can help them bring the new printing technique to market. “We think that this technology will make a large number of new applications possible that could not be produced, or could hardly be produced, in the past,” said Jan Opschoor, researcher in Materials, Testing & Analysis at ECN.

If ECN’s claims about their DLP technology are true, its process might introduce a whole range of new materials to the metal additive manufacturing market. With heavy industry across the board looking into the metal printing technology, ECN’s DLP could be a real winner in the world of additive manufacturing.

Image Courtesy of ECN

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